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Two former Pussy Riot members briefly detained in Sochi, questioned over hotel theft

Published time: February 18, 2014 11:24
Edited time: February 18, 2014 17:43
Photo from twitter.com user @MashaAlekhina

Photo from twitter.com user @MashaAlekhina

Two ex-members of the Pussy Riot group, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were held by security forces on Tuesday after a hotel they were staying in filed a theft complaint to police, officials said.

They are being questioned concerning a theft that at a hotel they are staying at. Along with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Mariya Alyokhina, all the hotel’s guests are being questioned,” local police said, as quoted by Interfax news agency.

Some three hours after the detainment, the two women were seen leaving the police station in Sochi's district of Adler.

"The questioning in regard to the theft has been completed, we have no claims against those questioned," police told RIA Novosti news agency.

Wearing masks members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L) and Maria Alyokhina (R) speak to journalists while leaving the police station of Adler, near Sochi, on February 18, 2014 (AFP Photo / Andrej Isakovic)

The activist, who first posted the news on Twitter, Semyon Simonov, says at least five other activists were also detained. The arrest took place in central Sochi, some 30 km north of the main Olympic venues.

I have no idea what’s this theft about,” Alyokhina commented on the charges to the BBC Russian on the cellphone.

A person who answered the phone at the Malakhit Hotel where the women were staying confirmed to Interfax a case of theft saying a purse had gone missing. However, there was no indication of who was responsible and the person referred all further questions to the police.

Tolokonnikova has written in her Twitter account that she was beaten by the investigators during the questioning and she was planning to file a complaint. However, according to the Sochi police she has not officially complained about the questioning process, RIA Novosti reported.

Members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (front L) and Maria Alyokhina (front R) perform in front of Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic games mascots as they record a video in the Adler district of Sochi, early on February 18, 2014 (AFP Photo / Evgeny Feldman)

A law enforcement source told Ridius that nobody was planning to detain the former Pussy Riot members and that they just wanted to question the two. Nevertheless, a ‘support group’ soon gathered around them and disrupted the police investigations, the source said, explaining why both of them were taken to a police station. According to the source, the conflict was triggered exclusively by Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina and their "supporters."

A members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, speaks by her cell phone, as she is escorted to a police car after being detained in the Adler district of Sochi, on February 18, 2014. (AFP Photo / Evgeny Feldman)

Police officers who were working in the hotel did not know that the two were members of the protester group, “but when they realized this, it was too late,” the source said, adding that the police had a real a “headache.”

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova spent almost two years in prison but were released on amnesty in December. They had been imprisoned over a protest in Moscow's prominent Christ the Savior cathedral.

Wearing masks members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L) and Maria Alyokhina (R), pose for a photo in a police station after their arrest in the Adler district of Sochi, on February 18, 2014.(AFP Photo / Evgeny Feldman)

The ex-Pussy Riot members came to Sochi to stage protest actions on behalf of the punk group, despite reports of having been expelled from it. One of the protest songs to be performed at the Olympics is called, “Putin will teach you to love your motherland,” Tolokonnikova said on Twitter.

The women have been in Sochi for over two days. On February 16, they were detained for 7 hours, while on February 17, they spent 10 hours with the Federal Security Service, Tolokonnikova tweeted.

During the latest – and third – detention, police used force, the ex-Pussy Riot members alleged.

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